Friday 10 March 2023

Friday Barnes: Last Chance

Friday Barnes: Last Chance by R. A. Spratt (Penguin Random House Australia) Paperback RRP $16.99 ISBN 9780143779247

 Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

R.A Spratt, is an award-winning author and television writer who lives in Bowral, NSW, with her husband and two daughters. She has created many best-selling series for children. This book is number 11 in her best-selling detective series, and it does not disappoint. It’s a ripper.

This enthralling read takes a reader to Paris into the world of the Louvre, one of the most famous art galleries in the world. Friday Barnes goes undercover as an art student along with her partner in crime-solving Melanie, and her seriously good-looking boyfriend Ian. Over one hundred years ago someone stole the Mona Lisa, and a recently uncovered letter reveals that the Mona Lisa in the Louvre may be a fake. This means that the real Mona Lisa could be anywhere.

R.A Spratt has created a super smart girl detective who is good at solving mysteries. This book is perhaps one of the best in the series. It cleverly weaves non-fiction into a fictional narrative so that the reader absorbs lots of information about the art world. I really loved this. ‘The Louvre Museum is a revered institution in France. It has great prestige in the art world, but it is also a financial powerhouse for tourism. Ten million tourists go the Louvre every year to see the Mona Lisa.’

The topic Spratt has chosen is both timeless and engaging. Her characters are well-formed, real, and flawed which makes them lovable and relatable. The dialogue is true to form for each character and moves the story along or naturally provides the reader with more story information. Spratt has also created smaller mysteries within the text and the ending is both satisfying and surprising. The reader is kept actively thinking throughout the whole book. There are both humorous moments and more serious ones with a touch of teenage romance. Around Ian, there was a bevy of girls. They had their backs to the sculptures. They were focused purely on him. Friday had no idea what the girls were saying, but from their body language – constant self-grooming and lots of unnecessary head tilting – she could tell they were flirting with her boyfriend.

Friday Barnes: Last Chance is a fun read for children nine years and older who will enjoy learning about the comings and goings to the Louvre. This book can be read as a stand-alone or it can introduce a reader to the series. Those already hooked on the series won’t be disappointed and I am sure they will be eagerly awaiting book 12 in the series.

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